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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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December 21, 2012     The Catalina Islander
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December 21, 2012
 

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Tachi remembered as Catalina Island fox ambassao00 Fox that could not survive in the wild dies of cancer BY BOB RHEIN "Ne Shun Tachi," the Island's beloved captive Catalina Island fox that touched the hearts of un- told thousands, passed away in her sleep on the evening of Sat- urday, Dec. 15, from a form of round cell cancer. Despite her condition, Tachi showed very little sign of discom- fort, and at no point did she re- quire or receive any pain support medication. "Our Little Girl of Hope," as she was named in the language of the Island's first inhabitants, the Tongva, served her entire life as ambassador for her species, which teetered on the brink of extinction in 1999. Tachi was born April 11, 2003, as part of the captive breeding pro- gram created by the Catalina Is- land Conservancy and its partner, the Institute for Wildlife Studies. Just four years earlier, the Is- land's population had crashed from an estimated 1,300 foxes to a mere 100 individuals, due to a virulent strain of canine distemper virus. "Tachi was born in our breed- ing facility to the pair that was in Pen 2," said Julie King, who was a wildlife biologist for the IWS. King is now the director of Con- servation and Wildlife Manage- ment for the Conservancy. "Her parents were excellent breeders, but they never really cared too much about raising their puppies," she said. "They pro- duced three female puppies that Catalina ?: Classic Tournament Dec. 20 BY STEVE HALL For the 21st consecutive year, the Avalon Boys Varsity Basketball program will" host the Catalina Classic Basketball Tournament, which is comprised of three schools from the main- land and our local varsity team, all competing for the tournament title. Avalon began by playing Wildwood at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 20; and willcontinue playing against Pacific Ridge at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 21 and against Trinity Academy at 9 a.m., Satfirday, Dec. 22. Depending on how the Lancers do in the first three games of the tournament, they will play again on Saturday, either at noon for the consolation or at 1:30 p.m. for the championship. Come on up and enjoy the competitive spirit that has always been a big part of this small schools tournament. Avalon will seek their third consecutive Classic title. The potential is cer- tainly there. However, the Lancers will have to come ready to play with intensity and focus if/they want to win another Catdina Classic Championship. Steve Hall is the coach of the Avalon Lancers Basketball team. year including Tachi. They just didn't want anything to do with their pups." They were taken back to the Conservancy's veterinary field clinic in Middle Ranch where there was an incubator, which kept them dry and warm. One of the three pups perished due to hypothermia, the other two foxes were to be fostered out to other moms with pups the follow- ing week. But, Tachi had devel- oped an eye infection. The biolo- gists kept her isolated in the clinic because the infection might fiave been contagious. Tachi opens her eyes During that time, her eyes opened onto a world she should have never seen. "The first thing she saw in her life were people--Matt Christen- son, wildlife technician, and Drs. Winston Vickers and Deana Frit- cher (Clifford), who continued to care for her. "When her eye infection cleared, she ,was placed back in with a foster mom" King said. "She got along with the siblings, but it was very difficult for her now to compete with them to ac- tually nurse. She was smaller than the rest and never had to fight for food before because she had been bottle-fed." When it got time to release Tachi and the other 2003 captive- born pups, the veterinarians real- ized that she wasn't an ideal candi- date for release. Tachi was just too comfortable with people. There was concern that once in the wild, she could wander into a human area such as a youth camp or campground and beg for food or seek out human attention. That behavior had the potential to place her directly in harm's way, especially if a dog was present. AS a result of her comfort with people, a decision was jointly made by the IWS, the Catalina Island Conservancy, and the California Department of Fish and Game to keep her indefinitely in captivity. She would serve as an educa- tion animal and ambassador for the species. Over the years, more than 100,000 visitors saw Tachi on the many tours that made Stops at her enclosure. She made many appearances at the Avalon School, where King would bring her into classrooms: "We have been able to incorpo- rate the work we have been doing on behalf of the foxes into their science lessons," King said. Tachi was a featured guest at the annual Catalina Island Con- servancy Ball, and thrilled young- sters and adults alike at Earth Day celebrations in Avalon. She toured the various summer camps on the Island, spreading the word about the immediacy neces- sary in restoring her species to the Island. King has been asked if the Con- servancy will get another fox. "At this point, we aren't legal- ly permitted to do so" she said. "They are a federally endangered and state threatened species, and will be for quite some time. Tachi's situation was quite unique. Unless another situation like that occurs, we cannot-justify remov- ing an otherwise healthy fox pup from the wild and placing it into captivity." Now, instead of just a few hun.- , , -, , Tachi, the Catalina Island fox died of cancer on Saturday, Dec 15. She was born in 2003 as part of a breed ng program to save the Catalina Island fox from extinction. However. she became too used to people and instead of being released into the wild became an educa- tional ambassador. Photo courtesy of Catalina Island Conservancy dred foxes on Catalina, there are more than 1,500 of Tachi's rela- tives on the Island as of the last count in 2011. "I always prefer for people to see them in the wild," King said. "That's where they should be. Tachi acted much more like a do- mestic animal because she was hand raised. She wanted her belly rubbed and wanted to play fetch. That's cute, but it doesn't portray the true behavior of an adult wild fox. "People enjoyed seeing Tachi up close, burI always tried to em- phasize how exciting and special it is to catch a glimpse of one in the wild" King said. "When I came to Catalina back in 2004, it was for a three-month seasonal position," King said. "Since meeting her, I haven't wanted to leave her. Tachi has es- sentially been my pet and Calvin's pet for all this time," King said. "It's been more than eight years now. Tachi definitely had a lot to do with that. I like to saY that she has held me captive." PEST (OIITROL Since 1929 CALL TODAY AND LET DEW-E PEST CONTROL TAKE CARE OF YOUR PEST CONTROL NEEDS! 310.328.0553 Great for travelers and business people. The NEW power source for cameras, smart phones and tablets. Available installed'for only $67 LECTR C 310-510-9239 24 Hour Service Ring.ill I1 Ncv Year in s'h: with music by DJ .and Surf& Tuffprix fixe menu served from 5PM- IOPIL Enjoy. a compihnenrary Oass ofcnpagne upon  and halfoUweU drh from 9:30PM-IO:3OPM." THE CATALINA ISLANDE ......................................................................................................................................................................................... December 21,2O12 1 5"